Murmurs and Antagonisms

Orthodoxy via Heresy

Category: Culture

Against Apologetics (Sort Of)

I got involved in philosophy through apologetics. And now I’ve got a deep aversion to apologetics. As Craig defines it in Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics apologetics is giving an answer, a two-pronged answer. One side is offensive, a positive case, and the other is a negative, a reactionary defense. Ignoring for a moment the issue with this weird two pronged approach I think I’ve realized some of my problems with apologetics.

I get this weird sense that it functions poorly, if it functions at all. It seems distant, separate. In fact, I think it requires a separation from existence, from language. It uses language to separate from language. Apologetics gives a language which is absent from the experiences of day to day life, of liturgical practices, of the moment. Which, oddly, seems to cause a self-refutation of sorts. Apologetics has this notion of not “checking your brain at the door of the church” or in your Christian life but it seems to do just that by using language and arguments that are separate any functional purpose beyond arguing and masturbatory praise regarding our evidences.

None of this is to say that apologetics is bad. These are just thoughts on the topic.

 

To White People: Protests

This is not the end of the conversation. It is not even the beginning. This is not me laying down truth but trying to understand American history. The accusation and condemnation of riots/protests in the wake of Ferguson speak to an ignorance of our nation’s history. These condemnations speak also to a misunderstanding of the current age, of the function of protests. However, I can’t explain protests, I don’t have anywhere near the definitive grasp on the subject. But I do wonder if (a mild rereading of?) Nietzsche might offer some helpful explanations of the function of protest, in any form (race related, wage related, etc.)

…the underprivileged have no comfort left; that they destroy in order to be destroyed; that without morality they no longer have any reason to “resign themselves” – that they place themselves on the plain of the opposite principal and also want power by compelling the powerful to become their hangmen. This is the European form of Buddhism — doing No after all existence has lost its “meaning.”

This “doing No” presents itself as a subversion of purpose and meaning. Nietzsche casts aside the notion that meaning/purpose are mind independent metaphysical truths or facts. Instead, meaning, like most anything else, is a construct, an invention. And for the underprivileged resistance functions as an active negation of meaning. So too with morality. What has been said of meaning can be said about morality.  Meaning and morality are made by those in power.

Example: Mike Brown’s murder served as a catalyst for protest. But it’s not an isolated incident. Reactions were not so much shocked, it seemed, but angered. And rightfully so. But in the case of Eric Garner it seemed inevitable that an indictment of some sort would be leveled. There was video evidence showing what appeared to be a choke hold, showing police using excessive force, but once more: no indictment. The protests that erupted seem to stem from the fact that the morality handed to persons of color by white supremacy failed. Because of this resignation can no longer be the answer. Instead, forcing the oppressor into a damned if you do or damned if you don’t situation becomes inescapable.

But I’d like to make clear: persons of color have known of this oppression for the entirety of American history. They have been on the receiving end of the violence of whiteness. This post is a white person attempting to make sense of riots and their meaning for other white persons. I’m trying to argue that any riots at any time are a reaction at the failure of morality given by the One (whether that be the State, Company, or Police).

Riots and protests are the cry of a positive nihilism of sorts. I think, for me, this is why discrediting the protestors seems inane. Criticizing the protestors misses the question of Du Bois, asked in their actions: “Would America have been America without her Negro people?” That question is being asked still today, Is America really America without its’ minority populations? David Walker was right in his “Appeal” in saying that African Americans were the only ones who truly appreciate the notion of liberty.

UPDATED: An Open Letter To Carroll High School

[Due to frequent misreading and complaints I am removing three sentences that appeared here originally. This is a generic post and reading it as anything other is a misrepresentation of my intent here. This is not about a specific incident, but about general experiences I have had and that have been relayed to me.]

I’m ashamed to be a Patriot.

No, this isn’t about America (that’s an entirely different issue).

I’m ashamed to have been a member, if only for a year, of the Carroll community. I graduated from Carroll High School at the end of the 2013-14 school year. There’s no way I can deny that I received an excellent education. In fact, my English teacher is arguably the best teacher I’ve had from a purely academic standpoint. And I know that the teachers I had have good hearts. From my government teacher, to the gym teacher, to the prayer teacher and many more I never had the privilege to sit under. But I’m ashamed.

I’m pissed off.

When I attended Carroll I was stupid with my Twitter account. But, regardless, rumors had started before then. And after my Twitter account I was called into the administration’s office to talk to the Dean of Students. He was concerned about my safety. That’s all fine and good. But at no time were the students starting the rumors talked to. At no time were students talked to for harassment within earshot of a teacher. And I know this has happened. In fact, daily I saw men touching women without that woman’s consent. In a classroom, too. This can be a hug, playing with hair, anything, but guys have no right to do that. Were they dealt with? How does this make the community safe for women?

And now that I’m in college I’ve found out rumors have started about me again and my younger brothers are taking heat for it. Carroll, I expect more from you. But my experiences, as minor as they are, lead me to speak of something more serious that has come to my attention and a trend related to this.

This is a trend of victim punishment in numerous situation and letting the person commiting the abuse remain a student. This is about lack of pro-activity. This is about stigma. These are my suggestions, based on my experiences, the experiences of friends, and what I know of Carroll. These are not slanderous or defaming anyone. This is generic as can be.

I have a few things to say related to this to the administration and to the Carroll community, current and alumni/alumna.

1). To the administration: Expel the students who distributed the images. Start actually being proactive in dealing with harassment and bullying. Start taking it seriously and dealing with it swiftly. Don’t wait to just hear from a student. Be involved, don’t sit aloof. But most importantly please, please do not punish the victim for anything. Start teaching people that victim’s are never at fault. Catholicism has a history of siding with the oppressed, from Oscar Romero to Mother Theresa. Embrace that side of the faith you hold in such high regard. And start having mandatory sexual assault courses. Start teaching people about consent. Stop shaming people for their choices. And finally, love mercy and seek justice for victims, I say again.

2). To the students: stop circulating images of minors. Stop circulating images, stories or anything without express consent (this happens more often than not). Even then, don’t spread images which are revealing or harmful to the victim. Stop bullying. Stop being assholes. Start taking seriously the simple idea of: love other people. This means don’t start rumors. This means stop acting high and mighty because you went to PATS. This means stop using slurs. This means stop mocking mental health. This means not objectifying people. This means listening to others. This means remembering you’re in high school. This means what you do now could harm you and others for a life time. Start being decent. Have some respect. Respect the people around you. Respect yourself. And to the boys (I don’t even want to call you men) at Carroll, stop thinking with your genitals, stop using women for your gain. No means no. Alcohol means no. Start seeing women as human, too.

3). To fellow alumni/alumna: please hold your alma mater accountable. Demand justice. Demand that your community protect victims of sexual harassment and violence. Demand that mental health not be a stigma. Demand that sexual orientation, gender identity, personality, age, ability, religion, or appearance not be shamed. Demand that your alma mater become more proactive. Demand that those who bully/oppress/harass are punished and removed from the community. Make Carroll a safe place. Make it safer.

I think Carroll has potential. But if it isn’t a safe place then I have no reason to ever claim the greatness of it. As long as victims are hurt, as long as teachers remain aloof in the lunch room and in the locker rooms, as long as teachers see students as only educational objects and not humans on equal footing deserving of respect, as long as platitudes are spread, as long as the administration tries to soften truths and patronizes students, well, frankly, nothing is going to change anytime soon.

Seeking justice,

Jonas Weaver

On Labels

This is going to be harsh.

But cisgendered, straight people like to tell LGBTQ people and society that if only we got rid of labels LGBTQ folks would be accepted more readily.

The argument goes as such: “If we didn’t have labels like “gay” then actualy gay folks would be accepted more readily. Like, I don’t have to come out as straight so why should they have to come out as something either? Like, I don’t get it.”

Problem: this works within a cis-heteronormative understanding of reality in which, of course, no labels need to exist. Because everyone is assumed to be cisgender or hetero labels are meaningless. If only those damn queers would use fewer labels then they’d be accepted.

But people don’t realize that saying this erases key differences and the necessity and power of self-definiton. It’s similar conceptually to colorblindness. Colorblindness functions as a seemingly poignant statement but fails by erasing difference. Additionally, by erasure it substitutes difference with a colorblind white washing. Same goes for LGBTQ people. Identities are straight and cis washed.

So, please, stop it.

 

Response to Kevin Williamson

[TW: transphobia]

Cox’s situation gave him an intensely unhappy childhood and led to an eventual suicide attempt, and his story demands our sympathy; times being what they are, we might even offer our indulgence. But neither of those should be allowed to overwhelm the facts, which are not subject to our feelings, however sincere or well intended.

This from arguably one of the most poorly articulated pieces on trans folks I’ve ever read. I get what Williamson attempts, and in some misguided sympathy, can admire what he is trying to do. But shock for shock’s sake ought to be governed by some kind of sensibility. And, thankfully, unlike Matt Walsh, Williamson actually writes well and with some sense of vigor. But his article is still garbage.

The main flaw I find with his idea comes down to biological determinism. He constantly appeals to scientific “fact” as if it were some new deity we can bow our heads to in submission. Scientific “fact” however is malleable and extremely subject to change. Never mind that Williamson appeals to basic observable facts and ignores the studies done on the minds of trans folks themselves which seem to indicate more to this discussion than initially thought. So, for all the appeals to science he seems to not actually care about science as it continues to evolve and develop (isn’t that sciences purpose?).

Additionally, for one who presents himself, seemingly, as opposed to the tyranny of the government he seems hell bent on imposing tyranny of science upon a portion of society the tyranny of “objective fact”. Nikolai Berdyaev, in his classic Slavery and Freedom,  states, “The free man ought not to bend the knee either before history or before race or before revolution or before any objective unity which makes pretensions to universal significance” (71). The point being that sex is an objective unity which makes claims to being significant. Male and female somehow mean importance on a universal level. Mr. Williamson engages in a monism which is, “. . . the denial of personality and freedom” (68). Williamson assigns categories to people and thus denies their personality, he objectivizes them and makes them into a mold, an item and cog in the machine of societal functionality.

Look. I doubt Mr. Williamson will ever see this brief response. Heck, even if he does I could care less if he were to acknowledge it since I’m an eighteen year old kid who has a passion for people and loving on them as best I can. All I do have are a few things I wish to say in regards to this topic, stemming from Williamson’s Laverne Cox piece and his previous Chelsea Manning piece:

1. Comparison of a man wishing to be tigress seems inane and superficial. There’s a difference of species to species change and identifying and experiencing dissonance between assigned sex and gender.

2. Seems to lack appreciation for the intersection of language and science.

3. While I appreciate that in his Chelsea Manning piece Williamson actually provides stats and extrapolates on his argument he seems to lack sensitivity to those who experience gender identity problems. In fact, suggesting that there be some sort of therapy to better help people cope with their gender problems (sounds startlingly similar to reparative therapy for gay folks) misses the point. I appreciate his concern for the duty of doctors but I wonder if he realizes some of the more recent statistics regarding trans folks?

4. But I have a problem with how he went about these articles. He has a tone which strikes me as divisive, schlocky, and frankly, poor. Instead of engaging he seems to want to sit on his pedestal and speak “truths”. Instead of engaging, opening up, he shuts down. He misgenders (which is violence) and perpetuates the idiocy of trying to discuss without patience and openness.

So, Mr. Williamson, please reconsider. I admit these are the half formed thoughts of a soon to be college student and I don’t have all the answers. But there’s more to this world, Mr. Williamson, than is imagined in your philosophy.

Jesus Doesn’t Care

I quit caring so much about gender, about sexuality, about providence, about creationism, about all the inane topics which come up regularly among (especially) homeschool kids because we’ve got no life (kidding).

Everyone wants to focus on whether or not the Church is being over run by the gays. Everyone cares so much about whether women dare to be pastors because, well, breasts cause men to lust. Everyone cares about how you express yourself whether it be by shutting you down or confining you to a societal gender role. Everyone cares too much about the age of the earth. And no one seems to care enough about what Jesus cared about.

And I’m one of those people.

(Parenthetical: I know that Jesus’ concerns relate directly to some of the forementioned topics but that’s not the point so shhh)

Jesus didn’t seem to give a rip if God created in six days or a million or if God used evolution or not. Seemed to be low on his radar. Which, thank God, is why we have Ken Ham, to help Jesus out and bring out his deep concern for the order of creation and mechanics thereof. I wonder how much a first century desert walker, despite being God, knew about science?

Jesus didn’t seem to care whether or not God ordained everything, or elected everyone. And of course we want to say, “But he says, ‘Those you have given me . . .'” and all  I can think is, Really? Really?

Look. Jesus didn’t seem to prioritize these things for the simple reason that (shocker here) they’re pretty boring. If Jesus had gone around talking about creationism half his audience wouldn’t have gotten it. Much less divine sovereignty and election, at least the current way we present it.

Jesus spoke to things which concerned the people at his time, and concern us now. But we’re too lazy to see the radical nature thereof.

Example 1: Jesus fought against the Empire. Rome ruled the world (as anyone with basic knowledge of history ought to know) at the time and Jesus comes in declaring himself deity, king, and lord. Pretty radical stuff at the time. His death, understood rightly, is a political death. He challenged the Jewish leaders and the Roman leaders at the time. The irony, though, is that unlike other revolutionaries who tried to revolt his was a subtle, silent, nonviolent one. As he told Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” Jesus cared about nonviolence. Something American aren’t too fond of.

Example 2: Jesus cared more for the poor than we can ever grasp. It’s actually pretty fair to say that he gave priority consideration to the poor. He elevated them by equating those who are beaten down by systems of oppression (another key) with himself. Try telling that to American evangelicals.

Example 3: He cared about life. And no, I’m not about to rant on abortion. Jesus cared about all aspects of life (birth, creation, living, death, birds, bees, trees, etc.) and he even said he came so that “they might have life to the full.” Somehow that part got missed in evangelicalism crusade to tell people how to dress and be human.Guess what? Jesus wants people to live life to the full and, as Joel Osteen-y as this is gonna sound, that means Jesus wanted people to live in a way which makes sure that they can enjoy life. And telling people to not like who they want or dress how they like has led to too many young deaths, so sorry evangelicals, checkmated by Jesus.

My point in all this: Jesus had bigger concerns than the crap evangelicals seem to care about so much and want to worship and die on. I’m glad you want to defend dinosaurs but seriously? I think Jesus had bigger concerns.

The Least of These

[Trigger warning: homophobia, suicide, Christianity, religion]

Today I was told I wasn’t a Christian because I was a jerk.

I was told I’m irritating.

I was told that my refusal to adhere to God’s law spoke more about the state of my soul than any words I could speak in my own defense. Today, once more, I saw the true heart of evangelical Christianity. At least, the false evangelical Christianity. And I’m pissed. And I think it’s okay for me to be pissed off.

The conversation came about because this kid posted an article by Al Mohler in which he deals with a congregation within the Southern Baptist Convention who chose to affirm gay folks.  And the thread on this kids Facebook page devolved into the same poorly formed, half-thought arguments too often perpetuated by the conservative end of Christianity. All I said was: lol. I laughed. Not at Mohler’s point, the SBC can do whatever it likes (though kicking that church out seems to me to be the height of inane action), but at how quickly the thread devolved, at the very simplistic understanding of our relationship to scripture. I was then messaged by this guy and asked, and I quote, “Do you think sin is hilarious bro?” to which I responded harshly. But I think I have a right to be harsh.

I understand the arguments for an against same-sex marriage, for acceptance or not. But my opinion changed not because of great arguments (frankly, both sides have mediocre arguments mixed with a good one here and again) but because of stories, art, and listening. I remember reading this article and nearly sobbing. It tells the stories of gay teens, kids, who have killed themselves because of bullying. And then this:

Anti-gay backlash was instant. Minnesota Family Council president Tom Prichard blogged that Justin’s suicide could only be blamed upon one thing: his gayness. “Youth who embrace homosexuality are at greater risk [of suicide], because they’ve embraced an unhealthy sexual identity and lifestyle,” Prichard wrote.

I remember reading those words. “Greater risk because…unhealthy sexual identity…” and I paused.

I had to rethink my own developing thoughts on LGBTQ issues. If people die is that ok? Through it all I kept hearing, Love the sinner but hate the sin. Like a song on repeat: lovethesinnerhatethesinlovethesinnerhatethesin, the voice of “right” and “wrong” echoed onwards through my head. I went to camps where I heard people say we need to take a stand for biblical marriage, fight the decline of Christian morality. But I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all a crock of lies? If you can really love someone but not their actions when it comes to sexuality and gender.

It seems to me to be a distinction founded on air. I realized then that when people are dying because of a belief and no one does anything that that belief is inane, wrong even. And I quit fighting against gay people and tried to love on them and embrace their beauty. But all this goes deeper and is ten times more personal.

Berdyaev states, “No man can be an incarnation and personification of evil, the evil in him is always partial. For this reason, there cannot be a final judgement upon anybody.” And reading that line and re-reading it gives me pause. And it brings me to the realization that I cannot be judged except by God. My lack of biblical faithfulness, or my biblical faithfulness, are not the determining factors of my salvation. Just because I don’t buy into one interpretation held by the Church for centuries does not make me any less likely to be saved. And like the Ethiopian eunuch my brothers and sisters ask, “Here is water. What prevents me from being baptized?”

So, someone tell me. What prevents me from being baptized?

What prevents me from partaking of the grace of God?

Unrepentant sexual sin, is the answer too often given. But I don’t put my stock in my faith in God, when I confessed Jesus as lord. I put faith in my baptism by which, and through which, Jesus chose to lay his grace on me.

So, tell me. Why am I jerk for not tolerating beliefs which have caused no end to suffering for my brothers and sisters?

Why am I jerk for refusing your interpretation of the bible?

Make my day, Christians. Go ahead, make it. I dare you. Because as long as kids are dying, AIDS is an epidemic running rampant without anyone caring, as long as people are being murdered and imprisoned for things they cannot change, I refuse your biblical faithfulness. And that might make me less a Christian, it might make me a heretic, it might mean I’m not saved. But somehow, I think Jesus still loves me, flaws and all.

So, make my day. I dare you.

 

America as Church

America has its creed – the Constitution, specifically the Amendments.

America has it’s own, Credo! – the Pledge.

America has it’s own worship anthems – the National Anthem, America the Beautiful.

The only real, true difference between the Christ’s Church and America is this: one uses weapons of war and violence to maintain its liturgies and habits. The other follows the way of a dead (risen) King who throws away violence and instead offers his Body and Blood as the way in which our habits are maintained and formed.

Minority Status

The question, from Scripture, asked by sexual minorities everywhere: Here is water, what prevents me from being baptized?

The Politics of Chest Hair

Society sets up an absurd standard for women to meet. Whether it be a basic leggy, skinny model of beauty with perfectly toned thighs and abs meet tanned skin or the notion that a woman should shave her pubic hair, it’s all done from a male oriented/dictated ideal of beauty and what a woman should look like. However, to a lesser extent, the same goes for men. Go to any high school in America and ask any female who their favorite male celebrity is/which they find most attractive and 3/4 of the time it will be a man who has little to no chest hair, specifically. (Male pubic hair is generally seen as socially acceptable more than female pubic hair, something which I fail to grasp, quite honestly).  Why is it okay for society to ostracize a natural occurrence among men as they grow up? Look, if a guy wants to shave his hair and be clean shaven all over, go for it. But society shouldn’t posit some idea of the man that’s utterly preposterous and out of touch with reality. Most men are not clean shaven hunks. Chest hair is just as taboo as pubic hair. And both are not unnatural or wrong. And no one should feel like they need to meet some standard for their partner or society of what is or is not attractive.